Just like wine sommeliers, a tea sommelier is someone who is specialized in tea tasting. They can be called the masters of tea! They are specifically trained and certified to provide information on the taste, history, and general knowledge of tea. They can brew tea using the proper methods and techniques, and can even tell you what would be the best food pairing.
Some tea sommeliers can even tell you in which country the tea was grown by just smelling or tasting the tea leaf. Usually, tea sommeliers specialize in a specific type of tea. While there are over 20,000 different varieties, the main types are
Tea sommeliers must have knowledge in not just the main types, but even the subtypes of each tea. For example, green tea can be divided into sencha, tencha, matcha tea, and many more.
For brewing tea, tea sommeliers must know the best temperatures for steeping the different types of tea. Lighter teas like white and green tea are steeped at lower temperatures for lesser periods of time as compared to black tea.
After obtaining their certification, tea sommeliers can either choose to start their own tearooms, or work in a tearoom. They can even find jobs in high-scale hotels as tea specialists. Working as a tea consultant or in fine-dining are some of the many options.
While the education for a tea sommelier can range from anywhere between $1,000-$4,000, there are many options to choose from. Each country differs in its curriculum, because some focus on tea pairings, while others on tea brewing and study. One of the popular programs is offered by the International Tea Education Institute (ITEI). The World Tea Academy also offers courses in tea aromatics, tea blender, tea specialist, and a lot more.